Online dating in Bangladesh: Is virtual love for real?

Online dating in Bangladesh: Is virtual love for real?
Photo: Collected


"Internet dating has made people more disposable." — Dan Slater.

How real is this phrase? Is online dating that good or that bad? Well, like most opinions, it is debatable. Here is a well-sought insight on how virtual dating works in Bangladesh and how it is perceived by the adult generation:

What is online dating?

According to Google, it is the practice of searching for a romantic or sexual partner on the internet, typically via a dedicated website. In other words, it is the usage of the internet to find similar personalities on a level where it is possible to find love. It has been highly popular in the last 10 years and due to our fast-paced lives and the fear of pandemic, people found comfort in this modern age service. For people who have trouble opening up and socialising, it has relieved them as well. Online dating is a Gen Z practice that has trickled down to the boomers and beyond.

How does it happen?

Just like the internet, the possibilities are endless. However, the most common platforms in Bangladesh through which virtual love is brewed are Tinder, Bumble and Salams. The most fascinating aspect of these applications is that you get access to people of your kind at the tip of your fingers. Your soulmate can be 'swiped' away. Believe it or not, the usage of these applications made finding one's true love over a span of a few days. These have exponentially changed the dating landscape, not only around the world but in Bangladesh as well.

Fiery love with Tinder

"I met Tisha on Tinder around February, 2018. It was the month of love and cupid was playing in my favour. I saw this beautiful girl with enormous eyes that would tantalise every human being on this planet. It took me minutes to fall in love and for her, it took 3 months to say yes and tie the knot. Best usage of my smartphone ever! Forever grateful to Tinder for existing." said 26-year-old Raihan. And like Raihan, there are hundreds of others out there who got their hearts mended, and broken, by this one app. Fire emoji as a logo, this app knows its way around people. With simple yet super impactful features like swiping right for accepting to swiping left for rejecting, it changed the definition of love for Gen Z. There are other features, like Super Like, Revert Swipe and Changing Distance. However, to enable these features, one has to pay for them. Regardless, this app had initiated the online dating era in Bangladesh and made virtual love possible.

Beaming love with Bumble

"Honestly, I did not not know why I signed up for Bumble. I heard it wasn't only for romantic partners and dating, but for making friends too. Also, girls knocked first and considering the shy guy I am, it was a blessing in disguise. I met Jannat through Bumble. We only wanted to stay friends at first because we both believed love was a 'waste of time.' Nevertheless, we have finally decided to give it a chance. When I think about my traumatic experience with real life dating with no matching of hobbies or personalities, Bumble was surely worth the shot and I would actually encourage people of my age to get out of their comfort zone and try this app," said a current student at East West University, choosing to stay anonymous. Bumble is a more diverse and inclusive dating application. There are some fun rules in it. Even though men and women both swipe, women need to knock first. It was done to reverse gender roles. Other than this, you can look for friends, casual dates and so on. It's lighter and more curated for the up-and-coming generations. This too has some paid features. Overall, this app has received 'mass love' in Bangladesh.

Sacred love with Salams

"I believe in Islam wholeheartedly. However, given the environment we live in, halal dating does not have many options. I wanted to follow my heart and find the one, but not at the cost of sacrificing my religion. So, one day during a post-work hangout, my friends introduced me to Salams. At first, I was so reluctant and hesitant. My friends had to literally force me to put a picture of me out there. Well, I am glad I did. Otherwise, how would I have found Zakia? We have been happily married for a year and Subhan Allah, what a journey it has been. I would definitely recommend this app," said Tariq, who is currently working at a private bank. Salams, which was previously known as Minder, even though not as popular in Bangladesh yet, is picking up pace. Halal dating landscape in Bangladesh is still in its infancy. People mixing Islam and dating into a melting pot is something people still need a lot of exposure to. Well, it's a start and for something to be normalised, it needs to be initiated.

As fairy-tale-like and wonderful as these stories may look like, there is also a dark side to it. People judge these users for being desperate, fake accounts, manipulation etc., creating a stigma that keeps people from trying these apps. Even though they have taken measures like photo verification, it still will require a lot more for people to get used to it. Love does bloom through such platforms but at a bound of discretion. After all, "We are most alive, when we are in love."